DELTON, Mich. – Shirley Woods, a man from Barry County, said he is haunted by a crime that happened more than 40 years ago.
His wife was raped and murdered in 1970 and the person responsible, Robert J. Brown, was caught and convicted and possibly paroled early.
Somehow along the way, Shirley lost track of the killer and now this husband can’t get over the fact that he doesn’t know what happened to the man who murdered his wife.
Shirley and his wife Kathy were high school sweethearts who got married in the fall of 1968.
He said they were happily married for two years, “The world fell apart the day before Thanksgiving.”
Kathy never showed for her shift at work that day.
“Went home and found her laying on the floor,” said Shirley. “The floor full of blood in the bedroom.”
The crime would take months for police to solve. Eventually an arrest was made which led to a conviction for second degree murder.
“This Robert J. Brown saw her evidently combing her hair, getting ready for work in the window of the bedroom,” he said.
Shirley followed the court process every step of the way. He said once Brown was sent to prison he thought he would be there for good.
Years later, he heard rumors that Brown was out, paroled early. The thought of not knowing exactly where Brown was started to consume him.
“In between then I had a nervous breakdown,” said Shirley. “I went to the hospital and started counseling at Barry County.”
Try as he could, Woods is still unable to find out what happened to the man convicted in his wife’s death.
“I get depressed. I get so worked up,” he said. “I have to let it go. I just shut down.”
A problem that likely wouldn’t have happened if the crime was committed today. In 1987 Michigan passed a law requiring the State notify victims of any change in the status regarding a convict.
Woods said at this point, he just wants to stop wondering what happened to the man who took one life and ruined another.
“There is no other place to go,” he said. “This is the last page of the chapter.”
FOX 17 spoke with Barry County Prosecutor Julie A. Nakfoor Pratt. We informed her of Shirley’s situation and she contacted him as well. She told us she plans to help him in his quest to find closure in this matter. Continue to check back for any updates to this story.